Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Most often our sin problem is in the area I call "refined" sins. These are the sins of nice people, sins that we can regularly commit and still retain our positions as elders, deacons, Sunday school teachers, Bible study leaders, and yes, even full-time Christian workers.
What are some of these "refined" sins? As I looked at my own life, one of the first that came to mind was the tendency to judge others and to speak critically of them to other people. That this sin came to mind so quickly surprised me, because I don't think of myself as a critical or judgemental person. Perhaps that is part of the problem. This seems to be such an acceptable vice among believers that we don't even recognize it unless it is flagrant - and always in someone else.
We need to take seriously Jesus' warning about a critical spirit in Matthew 7:3: "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" We need to learn to back off from judging others and leave that to God, as the apostle Paul instructed us when he said, "Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand" (Romans 14:4). A judgemental spirit is too often a vice of committed Christians. We need to recognize it as the sin it really is.
A judgmental spirit usually reflects itself in speech that is critical of others. It was with dismay that I realized some months ago that I needed to begin praying David's prayer: Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips (Psalm 141:3).
As the Holy Spirit began working on me in this area, I was surprised to realize how often I was saying something critical of another brother or sister in Christ.
Closely akin to judgmental speech is gossip, that endless recounting and passing on of the sins and misfortunes of others. We seem to get a perverse delight out of being the bearer of bad news about other people. Solomon warned us about gossip when he said, 'He who covers an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends' (Proverbs 17:9). And again, 'A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much' (Proverbs 20:19).
Do we take Solomon seriously, or more accurately, do we take the Holy Spirit seriously - for, after all, Solomon wrote under His inspiration and guidance?
The apostle Paul wrote, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your
mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen" (Ephesians 4:29). The word unwholesome covers any type of speech that tends to tear down another person, either spoken to or about that person. And Paul's prohibition against this type of negative speech is absolute: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up" (emphasis added).
How would we respond if someone said, "Well, I'm really not a thief, but I do steal occasionally," or "I'm not an adulterer, but I sometimes have an affair"? We would find such an attitude ridiculous and unacceptable for a believer. We know God's prohibitions against stealing and adultery are absolute. But all too often we allow ourselves to think this way about our speech. We engage in gossip and criticism, through we wouldn't want to be known as a gossip or a critical person.
The Scriptures do not allow for any gossip or criticism, or any other form of unwholesome speech, even if what we say is true. We are simply not to say anything about someone else that we wouldn't want to eventually reach that person's ear.
Even criticism addressed to someone should be given only with the goal of benefiting that person. It should never be given out of a spirit of impatience or irritability, or with a desire to belittle the individual. Only honest criticism given from a heart of love in a spirit of humility can qualify as that which builds up the other person.
Which of us, then, does not offend frequently with our tongue? The real problem, however, is not our tongues but our hearts. Jesus said, "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34). So it would not be sufficient to win control over our tongues, even if we could. We must recognize the sin in our hearts.
What are some other "refined" sins that we can commit and still be respectable among our Christian friends? Some of the more common ones are in the area of interpersonal relationships. These would include resentment, bitterness, an unforgiving spirit, impatience, and irritability. It is very instructive that it is in the context of interpersonal relationships that Paul wrote his warning, "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God" (Ephesians 4:30). Now, all sin grieves God, and Paul
could have inserted that warning in the context of sexual immorality (Ephesians 5:3-5) or lying and stealing (Ephesians 4:25, 28). But he places it in the context of sins we commit with hardly any sense of shame or guilt. The message should be clear. God is grieved over our "refined" sins just as He is grieved over sexual immorality or dishonesty. I am not suggesting that being irritable at one's spouse is as serious as something like adultery. I am saying that being irritable at one's spouse is sin, and that all sin grieves God and should grieve us.
One of our problems with these so-called refined sins is that we have become too comfortable with the whole concept of sin. Because we do sin so frequently we learn to coexist with it as long as it doesn't get too out of control or scandalous. We forget, or perhaps have never learned, how seriously God regards all sin.
Monday, November 23, 2009
We were headed out to eat after church yesterday.........
Driving with Hudson always presents surprises. His perspective brings up many questions and his brain works like his parents. That means his brain jumps subjects randomly and you can never be sure what is coming next.
Yesterday Hudson asked this question out of the blue, "What fixes the road?" I completely misunderstood and began to tell him non-useful information which only frustrated him. I finally caught on and repeated Hudson's question back to him. Timothy started telling him about how people fix the road when it breaks.
Hudson then informed us, "No. Bessie fixes the road like in Radiator Springs with Lightning McQueen."
Who knows what is next!?
Saturday, November 21, 2009
B.B. King - WOW! He is incredibly talented. Do you think that is an understatement? Probably. I had heard him play, but live is truly amazing. He is full of wit and humor. 84 and full of 'joie de vivre.'
The band amazed also. Whew, trumpet, alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, bass guitar, drums and more. Nothing could be added to enrich this sound. What more could you expect from the reigning King of Blues?
Celebrity Theatre was a good venue. All of the seats are within close proximity to a turnabout stage. The aisles were a bit close to one another and I would not recommend this venue for tall people - unless you get in the front row of a section. I thrilled with the intimate setting. Timothy compared it to a theatre on a cruise ship.
Being with my handsome husband made the experience all the sweeter. I have found that great moments are only made better when you share them with the ones you love. Watching Timothy's face while he enjoyed this master guitar player (his favorite instrument) was priceless. What a perfect venue for the mixed up couple we are - enough jazz for my taste and plenty of guitar for the rocker in Timothy.
Thank you, Mom, for letting Hudson crash at your house tonight. Mr. B.B. King did not take the stage until 9:15pm and so Hudson was fast asleep (I think) by the time we left the concert.
Thank you, Tabitha, for the tickets.
Here is a photo from my cell phone. I did not realize they would allow photography or I would have taken my camera....
Sleep well all to sweet sounds.
Amy has inspired me to create a blog of my own because I enjoy hers so much. I do not consider myself a writer, so please excuse my mistakes, faux pas and grammatical errors.
I did not want to get out of bed this morning. It was chilly! Hudson crawled into bed with us at 7:15 - 15 minutes before I told myself I was going to get up and workout. Which, resulted in me not getting out of bed until 8:30. Hudson squirmed around in our bed for about 30 minutes before he decided we were boring him and went back to his room. I was sinking back into blissful sleep when Hudson appears at my side, patting me with his hand. Why does he come to my side? I have not figured that out yet! Hudson was telling me, 'Mom, it is light outside. Time to get up!' About then I was trying to figure out when I would get uninterrupted sleep again. (see the above cartoon to see how Hudson melts my heart)
I grumbled around the room looking for workout clothes, tennis and socks. Thankfully Timothy got up too or the workout probably would not have happened. I am sore! Where did all of these muscles come from? At least I had some company for my misery.
It is 50% off at Goodwill today and I am still sitting in this chair looking at the computer! Where is the energy I am supposed to have? Something is wrong with this picture. :o) I am worried working out might be bad for my lifestyle.